Multi-material color 3D printing enables bio-texture modeling of internal organs.
Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine offers top-notch medical training at the Kobe University Hospital in Japan’s Kansai region and also focuses on integrating advanced technologies and innovative applications for medical research and development. Since 2011, Dr. Maki Sugimoto, associate professor at Kobe’s Graduate School of Medicine, has incorporated PolyJet™ multi-material 3D printing technology into medical training and surgery preparation. In 2014, the medical school decided to further realize the potential the technology offers by adding an Objet®500 Connex3™ color multi-material 3D printer to its facility.
A New Medical Approach
Traditionally, surgeons plan operations based on the CT and MRI images of patients’ conditions. While these images can illustrate a patient’s organ from different angles, they might not show all injuries that could cause possible complications. The Objet500 Connex3 solves this problem: Sugimoto 3D prints full-sized models of patients’ internal organs.
“The multi-color and multi-material bio-models help surgeons uncover hidden tissues and blood vessels that may be blocked by larger organs in the 2D scans,” says Sugimoto. “Clearer perspectives can now be visualized prior to operation and more accurate treatments can be planned as a result.” Surgeons examine the models’ different angles – and even mark up the models – to plan surgical procedures, drastically reducing the operation time.
“Customized bio-models are created with the most accurate information available, including cancer cells’ exact location, and how each vein and artery is attached to the organ or tumor,” explains Sugimoto. “These models are used to identify the appropriate treatments and simulate surgical procedures. In addition, these 3D printed models are used as tools when communicating the operation process to patients, thus providing a better understanding of the procedure.”